From a journal entry 12/27/2001:
It’s quite nippy today. I’ve put out birdseed and there’s a lot of squawking and chirpping and coming and going. I had fretted over the absence of birds, especially cardinals recently, thinking the cats might have frightened them all away. But it seems they just weren’t around when I was! There are plenty today. One of the Christmas cards I bought on sale yesterday has a cardinal on an icy limb and says, “To see the sacred, we must slow down.” I believe that’s exactly the case. This winter will provide us some peaceful quiet time to watch the miracles out our window.
From a journal entry 1/8/2002:
After Christmas, one of the boxes of cards I bought had a cardinal on a snowy branch. The greeting was “To see the sacred, we must slow down”. It struck me as being so true! Just as I had wondered where our cardinals were, then realized it was I who had been absent in watching, not they who had been absent in coming, I am once again struck by how God has little sacred blessings all around for me. It’s just a matter of me taking the time to look for them! I had written a friend of mine from high school yesterday, telling her about my green glass collection that started with her Christmas gift of a green bottle in an abstract shape of a person to me when we were children. Today, after 10 days of restricting my calories, I reached for a mint I’d had in the green candy dish that is a part of the green glass collection. They’d been there for months, untouched. When I popped it in my mouth, it was one of those puffy, porous mints like the King Leo’s peppermint sticks we used to get at Granny’s house at Christmas. So I looked at the wrapper to see if it was made by King Leo’s Candy Company and there lay a surprise – “Red Bird Brand” by Piedmont Candy Company of Lexington, N.C. Just yesterday, too, I’d discovered that the cardinal is the state bird of N.C. and realized that my daughter in law could probably find me a reasonably priced print! God is smiling at how easily I am entertained, I’m sure….. Thank you, God, for your little sacred blessings and encouragements! (I had taped the candy wrapper in my journal as a permanent reminder of how personal and intimate God is in blessing me!)
Last week on Thursday I was getting a manicure and I noticed what looked like a familiar wrapper on the mints in the manicurist’s candy dish. Sure enough, it was Red Bird Brand mints! I asked her where she’d bought hers and imagine my delight when she said, “Dollar General.” So, after my manicure I went straight there and bought them, noticing that the shelf sticker indicated it is a regular item! Now when I give someone a Red Bird mint I can tell them my red bird story.
After discovering “Red Bird Brand” peppermints, I have from time to time returned to the store where they had originally been purchased, but I have not found them there for several years. Today we were at a family Christmas brunch and gift exchange. I received a plastic container filled with “Red Bird Brand” peppermints! My grandchildren had found them in a store in Indiana and thought they would be just right for me, knowing my love for cardinals. They didn’t know I was already well acquainted with “Red Bird Brand” peppermints! This little serendipity (kvellabration, sacred moment) came on the heels of my having been blessed in finding the lovely little dress sweater with appliqued cardinals that I wore to the brunch today.
And so, once again, God has used cardinals and “Red Bird Brand” candy to encourage me. But where did this soft spot for cardinals begin? I recall the day and circumstances well.
It was June 1997. My husband and I had traveled to my parents’ home for a family gathering. We were spending Friday night there before other family members arrived. We were coming up on our 25th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. Life and marriage had been very difficult for us in recent months.
After that weekend, June 29, 1997, I wrote in my journal:
“I had a teary Saturday morning in bed with Bill. On waking I told him I’d had a dream and had come to think of him as an eagle and myself as a hummingbird, or even a bumble bee – totally incompatible species. That made me sad. Overwhelmingly sad. I wanted to see us more as male and female cardinals. Is it possible we could both be eagles or maybe swans- mating for life- graceful, heroic figures? I believe we’ll find the right representation that suits us both in my symbolic way of thinking! “
After 35 years of marriage, the last ten of which have been punctuated by counseling necessitated by the tumult of the first 25, my husband and I have finally arrived at a state of being that I would call “compatible” – not in a perfectly harmonious kind of never-say-a – harsh-word intermeshing with one another, but more of a we-love-and-accept-one-another- faults- and-all kind of way. I thank God for giving me cardinals as a symbol toward which to strive. I’m not sure that I know enough about cardinals to say that we’re anything like them in any way except one……we have decided that we will be a mating pair for life. There is something very comforting, hopeful, and encouraging about that!